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Myth of Blood Donation

Introduction

Blood is a major body fluid that maintains life. It makes up about 7% of the human body weight. Blood plays important roles in carrying nutrient, electrolytes, hormones, antibodies, oxygen and others throughout the body. Blood comprises different components such as white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets and plasma.

Red blood cells can live up to average 120 days in the body. After that, they will deteriorate and eventually be excreted from the body. In turn, new red blood cells are produced by the bone marrow to replace the loss of these red cells.

There are many myths surrounding blood donation and form misconception among the public. Hence, many have avoided from donating blood.

Myth 1: Donating blood can increase or decrease body weight.

Blood donation does not affect the body weight. Some may think that blood donation process consumes a lot of energy. Therefore, they need to take more food to replenish the lost energy and blood. As a result, this inadvertently increases their body weight.

In fact, the loss of blood during donation will stimulate the body to produce new blood cells for replacement. According to a study by University of California in San Diego, it is estimated that approximately 650 calories is burnt for donating a pint of blood6. However, this not a sustainable weight loss plan. One is only allowed to donate again after 2 to 3 months.

Myth 2: Infectious diseases can be contracted through blood donation.

Some thought that infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B and others can be caught during blood donation. These diseases are transmitted through the same needles being used repeatedly for different blood donors.

Blood service follows strictly that single-use needle and syringe be used for each blood donation. Used needles and syringes are disposed immediately after every donation and not to be used for other blood donors. This is to ensure the safety for blood donors and blood products.

The blood collection procedure also practices the aseptic technique to maintain the sterility and safety for both donors and blood.

Myth 3: Donated blood can keep for long time.

Some blood donors think that blood collected from donation can keep forever and retrieve when there is a need. Therefore, blood donation are done occasionally.

The life span of red blood cells is about 120 days in the body. The red blood cells will begin to deteriorate once they are outside of the human body. Thus, their survival depends on the preservative and nutrients to sustain their life during storage. Generally, the collected red blood cells can survive around 35 to 42 days. So, blood donation needs to be done continuously to prevent shortage of blood stock.

Myth 4: Giving blood is time consuming.

Blood donation comprises four simple steps, i.e. registration, health screening and testing, blood collection and rest. A single blood donation session usually takes less than an hour except for apheresis donation which may takes up to one and a half hour.

The length of blood donation is very much affected by the number of blood donors at the blood drive and the capacity of the blood donation team in managing the event. A larger group would take more than an hour to complete the donation process.

Myth 5: Blood donation will make my body weak.

A healthy adult human has an average of 4.7 litres blood. The volume of blood taken per blood donation is about 350 – 450 ml, which is 7.5 – 9.5% of the total volume. The interval between donations is 3 months. This is adequate to allow our body to regenerate new blood cells.

Each donor must undergone strict health screen by trained medical personnel before they are allowed to donate.

Generally, blood donation will not weaken the body unless there is some other conditions present.

Myth 6: There is a lot of blood donors in Malaysia. Why do I have to donate blood?

According to a local news report, the blood donors is about 2.5% of the total population in Malaysia. This is far from the international standard, which is 5%. This small population of blood donors will gradually diminish due to aging and other factors, if there is no increase participation from the public.

Consequently, blood stock will become scarce and limits the options for treatment as blood used for treatment is unavailable.

Therefore, greater involvement from the community will help to sustain the need for blood.

Myth 7: Muslims cannot donate or accept blood from non-Muslims.

Islam places a great importance on the value of life and it is obligatory for Muslims to do all they can to save a life. Other religion, faith and beliefs also have similar principles.

When blood is the only options to save a life, it should be given voluntarily and accepted only to save life without any prejudice to any religion, race and gender.

Myth 8: Individuals suffer from high blood pressure and taking medicine as their treatment cannot donate blood.

People often think that high blood pressure makes them unfit to donate blood. Moreover if they are taking medication for the condition.

In fact, the blood service does accept blood donation from individuals with stable and uncomplicated high blood pressure under medication. The blood donors need to be assessed by doctors to determine their eligibility before they are permitted to donate blood without putting their health at risk.

References

  1. Blood Connect. http://www.bloodconnect.org/
  2. Medical Daily. http://www.medicaldaily.com/why-donating-blood-good-your-health
  3. Mukhtiar Baig, Hamed Habib, Abdullah H. Haji, Faisal T. Alsharief, Abdulelah M. Noor, and Riyadh G. Makki (2013) Knowledge, Misconceptions and Motivations Towards Blood Donation Among University Students in KSA. Parkistan Journal of Medical Science. 29(6): 1295–1299.
  4. Namgay Shenga, Ranabir Pal, and Subhabrata Sengupta (2008). Behavior disparities towards blood donation in Sikkim, India. Asian Journal of Transfusion Science. 2(2): 56–60.
  5. Pusat Darah Negara. http://www.pdn.gov.my/
  6. The Blood Center. http://www.thebloodcenter.org/
Last Reviewed : 15 June 2016
Writer : Kiing Sie Cheong
Accreditor : Katheleen Ng Li Fong